The Peer Mental Health Advocates are committed to supporting their fellow students and empowering them to advocate on behalf of their own illness/disability through peer counseling support, connecting students to on/off-campus resources, and offering education related to a variety of mental health and wellness topics. Scroll over each PMHA to read more about them, and learn more about what PMHAs do below!
Nico, Africana Studies/Music, 2017. Experience with: eating disorders, depression, anxiety, short-term hospitalization, navigating healthcare while trans, academic accommodations. Areas of focus: gender and sexuality, ACT, CBT, nutrition, movement, sexual violence prevention, mindfulness, time management and stress reduction
Elena – International Relations '17 – diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder – experiences with eating disorders, sexual assault, self-harm, suicidal ideation, toxic relationships, substance abuse, misdiagnosis, medication (antidepressants and antipsychotics), off-campus resources including partial-hospitalization programs, CBT and DBT
Allie - BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), Panic Disorder, GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder); Lived experiences: Early parental loss, sexual assault, suicidal thoughts, CBT, DBT, SEAS (academic accommodations), medication transitions, managing jealousy and anger in interpersonal relationships. Mental illness is hard, but we're stronger together!
Nick - OCD, Depression, and GAD. Diagnosed with OCD at an early age, Nick has had much practice dealing with obsessive-compulsive behavior and would love to help/talk to anyone experiencing any sort of OCD symptoms. Nick actively implements many therapies for OCD, depression, and GAD, including ACT therapy, CBT, and mindfulness-based therapies. Nick has also taken a leave at Brown, and would love to talk with anyone considering that option!
Paige - Urban Studies '17.5. Lived experience with anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and abuse. Particularly interested in supporting my fellow Adult Children of Alcoholics, abuse survivors, and/or LGBTQ folks. Favorite coping mechanisms: therapy, journaling, habit tracking, and having No Chill.
Marie Lachance - Freshman; BEO with a specific focus in social entrepreneurship. Primary focuses: eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia), food anxiety, and over-exercising. Outside of being a PMHA, I make late night smoothies in the Ivy Room, teach swim lessons for preschoolers, serve on the marketing team for Stand Up! and TEDxBrownU, and I love to run around Providence, drink coffee, and watch Gilmore Girls.
Elise – Math or Physics concentrator ’19; Lived experience with: anxiety and depression, suicidal and self-harm ideations, SSRI medication, talk therapy, transition from CAPs to off-campus support, long distance relationships, mood issues related to oral contraceptives, being an athlete at Brown, transition-induced stress, feelings of isolation; Resources Used: CBT, talk therapy, SSRIs, exercise, journaling, being with people.
Ally -- Public Health -- Senior; Depression & Anxiety; Lived experience w/ sexual violence, panic attacks, self-esteem issues, friends' suicide attempts; Big on stress management & positive coping mechanisms; Understands that the road to recovery & wellness is sometimes rocky and inconsistent, but here to talk it out and ride it through w/ anyone who needs.
Dylan: Senior Psychology and Lit Arts concentrator. My primary areas of focus as a PMHA are in Suicide Prevention, Crisis Intervention, + Positive Coping Skills. Diagnoses include Major Depressive Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I volunteer for Crisis Text Line and currently see a local CBT+ therapist. I believe in empathy, and I'm always here to listen. Reach out anytime.
Paula - Eating Disorders; In high school, I experienced -undiagnosed- EDNOS for about 2 years. I focus on the stigma surrounding EDs, how to approach friends + family, life without medical diagnosis, intuitive eating, yoga, meditation, body acceptance, body positive language, etc. I'm open to discussing my personal story with recovery, + hope that I can help others with similar (or perhaps not so similar) experiences.
Dominique; Sophomore; CS; I’m pretty familiar with many facets of depression and anxiety, and possess a lot of knowledge regarding non-medicinal treatment and symptoms management. As a female PoC (Person of Color) concentrating in a hard STEM discipline, I’m also very well-versed in dealing with stigma, feelings of alienation, and the struggle of assimilating into a place like Brown.
Elyse -- Class of 2020 -- Public Health -- Depression, General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), disordered eating, body dysmorphia, panic attacks, and PTSD. I am on the premed track and am passionate about bringing more empathy and compassion to the medical field. I am also very interested in exploring how visual and performing arts help to manage and alleviate mental illness. Feel free to reach out whenever.
Hello! My name is Nino, and I am a senior at Brown University studying Biology, with a focus in Biogeochemistry. While I have been dealing with mental illness all my life, the start of college coincided with a huge spike in my symptoms, and it took awhile for me to learn how to cope effectively. I still struggle every day, but I have built skills to reroute my thought patterns away from the destructive. For me, that’s what progress and recovery look like. It seems cliché, but I wish I knew four years ago that things were not supposed to go exactly as planned. Part of learning and growing is making mistakes, and knowing what you want often comes from learning what you don’t want. Having this sort of perspective can come from personal experience, but it can also come from the experiences of others. I hope to provide this perspective through my work with LET’S, and to help others find their own path to recovery. “When confronted with someone whose normal is not our normal, we are forced to confront the most frightening prospect of all: that there is no such thing as normal."
Sarah: Depression + Anxiety; Focus: suicidal ideation, fear and isolation that comes with dealing with suicidal thoughts (from family, friends, admin), cultural stigma and the silence at home, coping undiagnosed without treatment, imposter syndrome, extreme guilt, social anxiety, poetry + writing, self-reflection + mindfulness, managing stress, relaxation techniques
Iris: Anxiety Disorders; Diagnoses: MDD + GAD; experience with Humanistic School psychotherapy as well as traditional psychiatry and SSRI’s. Focuses: anxiety management and stress relief techniques (breath exercises, coloring, visualization), mood regulation through yoga and physical exercise, understanding mental illness and recovery through creative writing, positive self-talk, self-care and self-kindness!
Hey I'm Dharsan, a sophomore studying applied math-biology, and I have acute performance anxiety. I've had this issue since middle school and have only dealt with it my freshman year at Brown. I'm here to be an advocate for peers experiencing anxiety (related or not related to performing), peers of color, or queer peers.
Peter - Mood Disorders; Interested in animal-assisted therapies + comedy. Diagnosed with MDD + GAD. I've also battled suicidal thoughts, bouts of anger, and panic attacks. I am a Cuban-American (and speak Spanish fluently). I see a CBT therapist + the CAPS Psychiatrist - and have finally found the right combination of meds. College is hard and life is weird. I’m here to help!
Janice - Recovery + Wellness; Dual-Degree. Diagnosed with depression about two years ago after living with it for much longer. Focus: coping skills, day-to-day logistics in relation to mood disorders, and finding a therapist. I've experienced CAPS at both Brown and RISD, before transitioning to an external provider. I still experience some challenges in daily life, but they now feel much more manageable.
Yema - pre-med, Psychology, '19. Lived experience with panic attacks, anxiety, orthorexia, supporting suicidal and depressed friends, and neglectful and/or codependent/unhealthy relationships. Resources: blogging, self-care, mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. Huge on self-advocacy and self-love and acceptance. Here to talk and navigate life with you, through the highs and the lows.
Rachel — Brown/Risd; bipolar disorder // mood disorders // depression & anxiety; Experience w/ misdiagnoses, finding a medicine (& going through wrong ones), seeking medical help (psychiatrists), seeing off-campus therapists & navigating mental health & family. Focus: coping with mood swings and anxiety in everyday life, self-acceptance and self-reliance, exploring mental health through art visualization & figuring out how to spend positive alone time.
What do PMHAs do?
- Create a personalized safety/relapse prevention plan
- Reminders regarding medication and appointments
- Cultivates their peers’ ability to make informed, independent choices
- Helps their peers identify and build on their strengths
- Access help/resources + learn how to interact with the healthcare system on/off campus
- Answer questions about mental illness to develop confidence and reduce stress
- Provide support in times of struggle and crisis
- Provide information relating to coping mechanisms and how to maintain recovery.
- Understand the impact of symptoms on your life
- Assists their peers in gaining information and support from the community to make their goals a reality
Categories: Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, Eating Disorders, Personality Disorders, Suicide Prevention/QPR, General Mental Health, Recovery and Wellness, Outside Referrals, Athlete Mental Health, Bipolar Disorder, and OCD.
In addition, Peer Mental Health Advocates help create resources on their own area of lived experience, lead educational workshops, facilitate discussion groups, panels, etc. + are required to hold open office hours for all students.
All students are trained through Project LETS, Inc. Project LETS, Inc. is certifed by The Depression and Bipolar Alliance (http://www.dbsalliance.org/) + The International Association of Peer Specialists (http://inaops.org/). In addition, Project LETS, Inc. is a recognized organization in the Global Network of Peer Support Organization under Peers For Progress (http://peersforprogress.org/). Attached is a document called "Global Evidence for Peer Support: Humanizing Health Care.”